Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our Daily Bread

We woke up to a windchill of -45 degrees this morning, and given that our kids have been sick (colds, ear infections, sinus infections, and allergic reactions to antibiotics), we opted to keep them inside this morning. That's a long way of saying that we skipped church.

It's never difficult to find something to pass the time on a weekend morning, and today the mission was clear. The cold and snow have precluded any grocery shopping excursions lately, and since I grabbed the last loaf of bread from the freezer yesterday, I opted to make some dough this morning. I have found that making bread is a perfect way to teach the Lord's Prayer, so it was a fitting exercise for us as we were missing church.

Here's my recipe for old fashioned bread:

4 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 c. hot water
1/2 c. sugar or honey
1 tsp. salt
1 c. hot milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 eggs
6 + cups flour

I use my KitchenAid mixer for the task. I dissolve the yeast in the water and stir in the sugar. I let it foam while I mix the milk and butter and microwave on high until the butter is melted. Then I stir in the salt and pour the mixture into the yeast mixture. I add 3 cups of the flour and the eggs and then turn on the mixer (with the dough hook affixed).

I mix it for a couple of minutes and then slowly add more flour. I have never understood what the term "elastic" means (is it supposed to feel like a rubber band?), so I add flour until it no longer clings to the side of the bowl and it doesn't stick to my finger when I poke it.

Proper supervision is essential during this stage.

Then I plunk the dough out on the counter, spray the mixer bowl with Pam, and plunk the dough back in.


Then I cover it with a dish towel and let it raise for about an hour (45 minutes if you put it on top of the pellet stove like I did today). You want it to double in size. You can test it by seeing if a fingerprint will stay in it like this:


Remember, we're concentrating on cooking here, not cleaning. Don't be afraid to slop a little flour on the counter.


Just make sure the cleanup crew doesn't sample the flour straight. It makes for disgruntled employees.


Sampling the dough off the hook, however, is encouraged.


In fact, if you let the kiddos sample enough dough, you might just eliminate the need to fix lunch.

If you do, in fact, want something for lunch, you can divide your dough in half.

Take one half and divide it into 8 pieces:


Then shape the pieces into buns. Let them raise for half an hour or so and pop them into the oven at 375 degrees until they're brown like this:


What's that white stuff, you ask? Parchment paper. The key to fewer dishes to wash and no food sticking to the pan.

If you're not into buns, you can shape your dough into rolls. I used 12 here, but you can do 15 if you want smaller dinner rolls.


Let them raise until doubled. If I were my sister, it would bother me that they're not all identical. It doesn't bother me because I know they all taste the same in the end. Bake at 350 degrees until they're browned. Don't ask me how long because all ovens are different and everyone makes the rolls different sizes. It will take somewhere around 20 minutes, I'm guessing.

I also whipped up some caramel rolls for tomorrow's breakfast. Just take half the recipe for dough above and roll it out into a rectangle - I use a cutting board and roll it into about a 9 by 15 inch rectangle. Then slather it with softened butter. It'll take about 1/4 cup (half a stick).


If you're lucky enough to have some subordinates around, you can employ them to sprinkle 3 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar on top:


Please disregard the dirty floor in the background. This is a farm, not Martha Stewart's house. Besides, we're busy making rolls here.

While the subordinates are making the biggest mess ever delicately sprinkling the sweets on the dough, I'm busy breaking out the secret weapon of killer caramel rolls: high quality vanilla ice cream.


Melt a couple generous scoops in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave for about a minute, and you're left with about half a cup of yummy stuff. Mix that with 3/4 cup brown sugar and dump it in a 9 by 13 inch pan. Here I also sprinkled a little bit of Pampered Chef's caramel roll seasoning on top.


I am indebted to my high-dollar hand model for pointing that out.

Then roll the dough up and order the subordinates to pinch off the end to keep it together.


When you turn around, check for any foreign objects that may have been added without your knowledge.


It is a breakfast food, I guess.

Then cut the roll into one-inch portions. You should end up with 15 unless you want to make them larger, like I do. Then you make your cuts farther apart and end up with 12.


Place them in the pan.


It's quite important to have someone on hand to poke each roll with the finger that was just in her mouth.

Cover and let raise until doubled.


Bake at 350 degrees until browned, somewhere around 20 minutes.


They look even better on the other side.


Invert on a wire rack with parchment paper beneath it. Then make sure you have plenty of time to protect them from invaders while they cool.


She's so fast I could barely catch her with the camera. Look at that blur!


Mum-me said...

The most entertaining (not to mention cutest) recipe I have ever read. I wish all cookbooks were like this! (By the way, I looked really, really hard and I couldn't see any dirty floor in the background of that photo.)

Colleen said...

The sister your refer to is more worried about the flour on the counter, child, floor, etc. than the inconsistent roll size (hee hee)! And I'm wondering as I see the mixer on your counter .... where is your coffee pot???

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